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Everyone talks a good game when it comes to personalization—unfortunately, for most it means they placed a person’s first name in an email. For the record, that’s not personalization, that’s a mail merge from the 1980s.

The real value comes when you can support the actual meaning of personalization: the ability to leverage data in support of an actual individual’s real-time journey and not just a “persona” where your current message, offer, or topic has little to no bearing on their current needs or wants.

For instance, just because a database is made up of people of a certain demographic target—location, age, gender, income, or even interest—it is still far away from personalization. Here’s the perfect example, one that was addressed to me. As many know, I love my barbecue. So much so, that I use it multiple times a day throughout the summer, and even four to five nights a week throughout the winter. This usage required me to buy a new barbecue from the local branch of a major retailer this past year.

So here’s the funny, yet sad part. Not even three weeks after I purchased my new barbecue, I get a marketing email offering me 20% off a new barbecue. You can see where this is going. My name and email was added to a demographic database that the retailer’s marketing department thought I fit into. And if it was before I bought a new unit, they would have been right. Do I like barbecues? Yes, I do. But the failure to link their systems led to sending me an email that not only didn’t pertain to me, but also it was for all intents and purposes embarrassing for the retailer or, at the least, for its marketing department.

How could they have done better? First, let’s look at further distilling the message. If the retailer had connected a couple of data points, they would have known that I had recently purchased a barbecue, then maybe they could have sent a promotion on barbecue tools. Again, not what I’d call personalized, but it’s a start. Working from there, they could have asked what type of tools I’m looking for—maybe pertaining to what type of foods I like to cook. Now, they’d at least have my interest.

At this point, the simplest gesture would have led to more detail on me as a person and not just another name in a mass database. Perhaps I would have mentioned I love swordfish. The tools, accessories, and so on, would vary slightly while adding a personal tidbit of information into the mix. The outcome, instead of the “Need a new barbecue?” or even “Need some barbecue tools?” approach, I could now receive a “Hi Andrew, how was the last swordfish recipe you tried? We have some amazing wood planks to add flavor, want to give this new technique a shot?”

Amazing how the collection of a few small pieces of information has resulted in a completely different message, and a completely new way of interacting with the customer. From general to personalized in just a few simple steps. That is what is known as creating the ever sought after single-user-profile. And it doesn’t end there.

Now that a conversation has been started (albeit an automated one), one that feels ”real,” let’s go even further. Perhaps the barbecue retailer also sells outdoor refrigerators. By continuing the conversation of what I like to cook with what I like to pair the recipes with, the next offer comes into play. If I say I’m a wine connoisseur, then a specific wine refrigerator designed to hold wine bottles is in order. But If I say I love a great IPA with my barbecue food, then beer fridge it is.

And this can continue forever, building not only a healthy marketing and sales pipeline, but also an extreme sense of customer loyalty due to far greater intimate knowledge of the person.

In the end, it’s all about real customer data. And not just having it, but having a system that understands it, having a vision for it and being able to use it in a manner that truly matters to the organization and to the customer. And though data management and all that entails may seem like a daunting task, it really isn’t. Today’s systems are largely automated and interconnected to take advantage of your data as per your vision and daily, weekly or monthly needs.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that you already have a ton of data just waiting to be leveraged in a highly personalized way—you just need the help of an interpreter to get the data to a place where it can be actioned. That’s something I can absolutely help you with. If it’s all about getting you from person to personalization, you’re one step away from higher revenue and enhanced customer loyalty.

Shall we start with a virtual coffee? Let’s get to know more about you and your business so we can help personalize your personalization strategy.

Andrew Armstrong

Andrew Armstrong

Chief Customer Officer

Andrew Armstrong is the Chief Customer Officer at omNovos – working globally with customers to design world-class customer engagement programs. He’s a prolific writer and speaker on topics including customer loyalty, personalization, and retail marketing technologies. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter - his open approach to all topics usually leads to a fun discussion and a few laughs.